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Daily Digest: Walking the Participatory Government Walk

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, January 13 2009

  • We the Briefers: Joining the growing list of President-elect Barack Obama's experiments in interactivity is the Citizen's Briefing Book, as Nancy Scola reports. The top-rated policy ideas will, said Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett in an introductory video, be compiled and presented to the new President after he takes the oath of office. But somewhat unlike past experiments like Seat at the Table and Open for Questions, this stands out for replicating a standard element of how politics happens day-to-day: the policy briefing book staffers prepare for their bosses. And that familiarity might make the results of this citizen-driven project easier to slot into how governing gets done.

  • The Pan-Government Story of the Stimulus: Politico's Ben Smith points us to what looks like a new webisode of "The West Wing," but what turns out to be a new seven-minute video in which key soon-to-be Obama Administration figures make the case for the President-elect's stimulus package. What's particularly striking is the complete disrespect the video shows to the traditional silos of public policy. Everyone from health care guru Tom Daschle to economist Larry Summers to energy advisor Carol Browner are called on make the case for the revitalization plan. Those around Obama haven't forgotten what they learned on the campaign trail about how video and story telling can help make a tough sale. Also worth noting: incoming deputy White House chief of staff Mona Sutphen uses the flood of personal anecdotes about economic strife pouring into to argue that "the recovery plan has to be just as far reaching."

  • COPS on the Beat: Harvard's Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel overseeing how the Treasury Department's handles the Troubled Asset Relief Program, thinks Henry Paulson et al is guilty of delivering "non-answers." Furthermore, they're failing to meet its legal obligation to protect homeowners facing foreclosure. How do we know those juicy details? She said so, in a YouTube video posted to a new and improved site. With a public hungry for accountability in the massive financial industry bailout of the fall, Warren is serving up good government. The question is, is anyone paying attention? Posted four days ago, Warren's TARP video has fewer than 400 views.

  • A More Entrepreneurial FCC: The word on the street is that Obama tech advisor Julius Genachowski will be named chair of the Federal Communications Commission, as Washington Post's Cecilia Kang reports. While Genachowski has spent time at the commission serving as counsel, what makes him a new kind of FCC chair is his background in business and as a venture capitalist with ties to the West Coast. Recent past chairmen -- Kevin Martin, Michael Powell, William Kennard, Reed Hundt -- were regulators with roots as Beltway lawyers. Media advocacy group (and frequent FCC critic) Free Press is pleased. Executive Director Josh Silver says a Genachowski pick would mean "the FCC's compass would point toward the public interest."

  • An Original Fairey: That iconic Shephard Fairey poster of Obama -- you know, the red, blue, and ivory stenciled image emblazoned with the word "HOPE" that was ubiquitous during the campaign -- is being enshrined in the National Portrait Gallery. But don't be jealous of the President-elect for being the subject of some great-looking street art. You too can now be the star of a custom Fairey(esque) piece through Paste Magazine's new poster generator.

  • Feathering a Nest for Obama's Networks: With his selection of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as DNC chair Obama might have been setting up an ally to be the recipient of his campaign's treasure trove of email addresses and supporter data, suggests CNN's Martina Stewart. That's information that could replicate some of the aspects of outgoing chair Howard Dean's much-debated 50 State Strategy by networking Democratic supporters across the country cheaply and easily.

  • All the President's PDAs: The New York Times' Brad Stone details why, from location awareness to legal concerns, Obama "can't...keep his BlackBerry." (Via Sarah Lai Stirland.) Stone suggests that that reality might not be all bad because it will mean a merciful end to to the President-elect's habit of wearing his Blackberry clipped on his belt. And yes, it's dorky. But it would also be a powerful symbol of a modern, connected, accessible president.

In Case You Missed It...

Sanford Dickert live blogged a panel last night in New York City which featured our Micah Sifry,'s Josh Levy,'s Rachel Sterne, and CauseWired author Tom Watson. The topic? "Government By the People 2.0."

Nancy Scola suggests that the recent instability of SoapBlox presents progressive bloggers with a difficult choice between sticking with a movement ally or switching to a steadier open-source platform.

And Micah Sifry details a discussion with the founder of GovLoop, "a social network for government."

Got tips, leads, or story ideas for the Daily Digest? Get in touch. Email or contact @techpresident on Twitter.